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Educating Rita - Write about Russell's treatment of self-discovery and of its importance in the lives of the play's characters.

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Introduction

(A) "RITA: See, I don't want a baby yet. See, I wanna discover meself first. Do you understand that?" Write about Russell's treatment of self-discovery and of its importance in the lives of the play's characters. The idea of self-discovery is a theme that runs throughout Educating Rita, demonstrating how it can be a personal mission as well as an accidental achievement in life. Both Frank and Rita, as well as the other, more minor characters, embark on this journey as Rita begins her Open University course. When Rita begins her the English Literature course, she is raring to go and wants to know "everything". She also puts in words, her personal desire for self-discovery. "I wanna discover meself." Rita knew from the beginning that she was on a mission and knew where she was going. Frank on the other hand, is quite content with his way of life and finds the idea of a "silly woman's attempts to get into the mind of Henry James" highly amusing although it does interrupt the monotony of his potentially extremely boring and predictive lifestyle. ...read more.

Middle

Russell does this to show how the life of the teacher who is apparently stuck in a rut is also changing. The areas that Rita studies show how she has progressed. When she begins to form her own ideas which would hold their own in an examination, Frank doesn't appreciate it, he thinks that the progress Rita has made will make him lose her. "Don't y' like me now that the little girl's grown up, now that y' can no longer bounce me on daddy's knee?" (B) How does Russell use social differences between the characters to dramatic effect in Educating Rita? There is an obvious difference in the social class that both Frank and Rita reside. As a hairdresser of working class background, Rita is a complete contrast to Frank who is a university lecturer of middle class background. Russell uses the difference in the styles of language used by the two characters to show their level of education. Rita went to a mainstream school while it is hinted that Frank had private schooling and appears to be horrified by Rita's views. ...read more.

Conclusion

Frank invites Rita to his home for a dinner party and Rita still feels unable to attend, instead, she visits her family at a local pub and it is here that she realises that she is a "half-caste". Even her own mother is aware that she has gone too far to return to her past life. "We could sing better songs than these." Although the whole play is set in Frank's office, beyond this point the main focus often moves away from her education and more to her transition into middle class society as an "educated woman". Frank is no longer all powerful in Rita's eyes and she has gained a life of her own that he has no control over. Frank sees her as a monster and uses literary allusion to tell her this. "From now on I shall call myself Mary Shelley. Do you understand that allusion Rita?" Without the use of social differences between the characters of Frank and Rita, Russell could never quite show the audience why they act in the way they do. Without this, much of the dramatic effectiveness within the play would be lost. English Literature 1 Practice Question (June 2002) ...read more.

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